I had the privilege of serving as Pastor of a church in Lexington, Kentucky for several years. Each Mother’s day, instead of an official sermon, I would write and perform a monologue. Reading through an old moleskine recently I found my notes and thought I would post the yearly monologue here.
[An elderly man walks on stage with a cane in hand. He is in his living room. He sets his cap on a stand, drops his cane in the holder by the door, and shuffles to the tweed couch with a crocheted afghan draped across the back. He slowly bends over, and feeling for the landing below, gently lowers his frame down on the couch.]
[he stares off into the distance as though looking back through time….and then finally, slowly begins to speak in careful, thoughtful tones.] I remember when we took our firstborn Son to church on mother’s day 35 years ago. Oh my wife and I had been trying for 20 years to be obedient to the Lord’s command to “go forth and multiply”….but it seems like God thought it might be more interesting to wait until we reached our 40’s to become parents.
Which wasn’t necessarily a bad idea….by the time you reach your 40’s some things just aren’t as big a deal as they would’ve been in your 20’s or 30’s….you’re not as interested in impressing others with your parenting skills and you start to be thankful for what really matters to a new parent in their 40’s, namely, that being a new parent in your 40’s has not killed you yet.
Our first Mother’s Day at church came when our son, Michael, was 2 years old. Now due to an unfortunate baking accident, my wife was wearing a wig at the time. We were sitting in the middle of the crowded church listening to the Minister talk about Mothers and about how “HELL IS REAL!” It seems it did not matter what the sermon was on any given Sunday, he could always bring it back to the fact that, “hell is real!”
This Mother’s day he was talking about the story of the birth of Moses. How Pharaoh had condemned all of the Hebrew males to be killed to reduce their numbers. Jochebed gave birth to Moses and hid him for three months to try to protect her boy from the world around him – a world that didn’t care a lick about him. To everyone else he was nothing but a slave child….but to Jochebed….he was her boy.
Well as the story goes, she realizes she can no longer hide Moses, but she wasn’t done protecting him either. So she made a basket, put her son inside, and took that basket to the river….and gently let it go. The basket floated slowly from the river bank, spinning as it gradually picked up speed….and then disappeared round the bend. And Moses’ Mother experienced what I reckon every Mother goes through when you’ve done all you can do to protect your child, and yet there comes a time when you simply must let them go….and trust that God is somehow in the middle of it all.
Well the preacher went on talking like this and our boy was getting restless. You see we didn’t have a nursery back then….kids were expected to be in church and listen no matter how old they were….So that they would also learn that “hell is real” I suppose. Well our boy was not going to sit still any longer. He climbed on to my wife’s lap and started pulling on her necklace, he then moved to her dangling ear rings, and tried to grab for her eyebrows.
Now if my parenting skills were keener back then I would’ve taken the boy from her, but right about the time I though of it, our son’s little hands moved up my wife’s face until he came to her hair. He yanked that wig as hard as he could and pulled the side of it clean round to the front and over her face. My wife started to flail around as though she were drowning. She tossed our son at me as she got her head together. You could hear gasps and giggles rising all around us. It was about this time when the preacher cried out from the pulpit, “and make no mistake about it my friends, hell is real!” Through grated teeth my wife whispered sharply at me, “you don’t have to tell me hell is real….I just experienced it!” “Honey, I’m sure no one noticed” I whispered back. “Why didn’t you just hand him to me if you couldn’t control him?”
Needless to say it was not the most uplifting Mother’s Day service….we left quietly….my wife put that wig away and never wore it again. But make no mistake about it, Mother’s are the protectors of the family. Seems my wife would go through any pain, put up with any discomfort, rejection, and sorrow, just as long as our son didn’t have to. Sometimes I think the title, “Mother” is given out a little too easy these days, but my wife….she earned it.
Course there came a time when we had to let Michael go, not because we wanted to mind you, but because he insisted, and an 18-year-old can wear you down….but my wife….she never stopped watching….even if it was from the sidelines. And our boy, well he went off and lost his head as far as we were concerned. Did all the things you don’t speak about in public places. I can’t tell you how many times I would pass by our bedroom and hear the muffled cries of my wife praying for the our Son, praying that he would be protected, that he would remember how much he was loved, and that he would realize he could always come home….still trying to protect him, as she watched him spin around, pick up speed, and disappear around the bend, into a world that didn’t care whether he lived or died. You see to everyone else our son was just another man lost in the world….but to us he was our boy.
She’s been gone for 10 years now….my wife….and each Mother’s day I like to gather with friends and family to honor her memory and tell the story of her life. My son picks me up so I can go with him to church and I….[The ringing of a rotary phone interrupts him and he reaches to answer]….Hello?….oh morning Michael….yes I’m ready….just waiting for you….well that sounds nice….I hope we can get a table….course we could if you would keep your preaching short this year like I told ya….I can’t help it I get as restless as a child anymore….ok….I’ll be on the porch watching for you…[Places the phone back down on the receiver]….Guess I better get out there….Happy Mother’s Day.